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Thread: 3-1-1 from travel columnist at MSNBC.com

  1. #1
    Aruba since 1979
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    Andrea J.'s Avatar
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    3-1-1 from travel columnist at MSNBC.com

    Liquid rules: So long, 3-1-1?
    Air travelers say TSA security restrictions no longer in effect

    By Christopher Elliott
    Travel columnist
    msnbc.com contributor
    updated 10:05 a.m. ET, Mon., May 10, 2010


    Christopher Elliott
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    The Transportation Security Administration’s unpopular restrictions on liquids, gels and aerosols in carry-on luggage — better known as the 3-1-1 rule — are history.

    Passengers say the TSA has all but stopped screening their baggage for liquids. They say transportation security officers no longer ask them to remove lotions, shampoos and even water bottles from their luggage, and overlook all manner of liquids packed in their carry-ons during screening.

    “I was never asked about the liquids in my bag or asked to remove them,” says Doris Casamento, a retiree from Naples, Fla., who recently flew from Miami to Rome. “My husband had a bottle of water from the hotel he forgot was in his carry-on and it was never confiscated. The water was in a shallow shoulder-bag bulging practically in plain sight.”

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    The TSA initially banned liquids and gels from carry-on bags in 2006 when British authorities reportedly thwarted a plot to blow up planes bound for the United States with liquid explosives. The rule was later revised to allow small quantities of liquids in carry-ons.

    The agency in 2008 promised it would ease its restrictions within a year by removing size limits on liquids carried onboard. But liquids still would have to be placed in a separate bin, according to the agency. The 3-1-1 rule isn’t scheduled to be lifted until the end of this year, when X-Ray machines at security checkpoints will have upgraded software proven to detect threat liquids in any configuration.

    But a TSA spokeswoman insisted the 3-1-1 rule is still in effect. “The policy continues to be enforced,” says the TSA’s Lauren Gaches. “Although it is important to note that we empower our workforce with discretion.”

    However, extensive interviews with air travelers suggest that the policy is largely unenforced.

    Among their observations:
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    The policy was apparently loosened in 2009. Numerous travelers say the TSA started looking the other way last year. “I leave my liquids in my bag about one-third of the time, mostly because I’m brain dead after teaching two or three full days, and forget,” says Gary Zeune, who offers seminars on white-collar crime. “The last time TSA told me to remove the liquids and rescreen the bag was maybe a year ago.”

    It’s happening across the board. With only one or two exceptions, travelers report the lack of a liquid rule at airports across the country. “Twice lately I have gone through security and in a rush forgot to take out my little baggie of liquids,” says Dody Viola, a social worker in Ann Arbor, Mich. “I didn’t realize this until I was on board the plane. I’m not trying to test the system — I just honestly forgot.”

    No liquids are suspect. Incredibly, no liquids of any kind are apparently scrutinized by the TSA, according to air travelers. “I have small bottle of hand sanitizer and contact solution in my soft-sided briefcase,” says Robert Muncy, a network engineer in Cincinnati. “Never once have they said anything.”

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    If the 3-1-1 rule has indeed been scrapped, it would mean the TSA has taken a lead in removing the liquid-and-gel restrictions. The European Union last month set an April 29, 2013 deadline for lifting its liquid rules. By that date, the current restrictions on the carriage of liquids in cabin baggage will end, according to a statement issued by Siim Kallas, the EU commission vice president in charge of transport. “For passengers, the aim is also to simplify wherever possible the necessary security controls,” he added.

    Of course, the Mexicans are a step ahead of all of us when it comes to liberating carry-on liquids. Consider this sign spotted a few days ago at the Puerto Vallarta airport. That’s right, carry your latte right through the checkpoint and take it home to the States with you. “If it’s safe for me to clear security and then fly from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco with a liquid-filled Venti-sized container that is about seven times the size of the largest allowable toiletry, then why is it not OK for me to do the same from San Francisco to Chicago?” wonders Tony D’Astolfo, who authored the post.

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    I hear that. I’ve never understood why the TSA had a liquid-and-gel rule, which I’ve openly questioned in previous columns. In response to my claim that liquids were harmless, my friends at the TSA posted a “mythbusting” rebuttal that required its own mythbusting.

    Isn’t it time for the TSA come clean about liquids? If there’s any evidence that my tube of Crest is dangerous, or even just a single documented case in which liquids could have brought down a plane, then I think we’ll all quietly empty our toothpaste, hair gel and contact lens solution into one quart-sized, clear plastic, zip-top bag.

    Otherwise, the TSA should make it official and let our liquids fly.

  2. #2
    Junior Member Run262's Avatar
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    Until something is posted oficially from TSA - I'll go the conservative route and follow the insane rule; simply because there have been several times that I really did forget and lost some rather hard to find expensive products. It's frustrating no doubt, but I seem to always be the one that gets "caught" with the dangerous tube of Crest or the bottle of water I always seem to want to carry with me with I travel.

  3. #3
    Senior Member corona's Avatar
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    That was an interesting article, Andrea.

    Was it just a month ago we vacationed in Aruba? Seems longer. Anyway, before we got in line at security the morning of departure, we asked our son and his friends, (four 18 yr olds) to make sure they had their 3-1-1 bags either out or in a pocket where they could easily reach it. My son couldn't find his. I also went through his carry-on and couldn't find it either. Darn...he was carrying our emergency sunscreen supply and a few other liquids in case our checked bag didn't make it. We went through security without any issues. Our checked bag made it to Aruba with us, so all was well. A couple of days after arriving in Aruba, I was looking for something in his carry-on, and sure enough, just as if it had appeared from thin air, there was his 3-1-1 bag. It had made it straight through security.
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    Senior Member Chadd's Avatar
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    This is my first day off in a week and I saw it enforced every day, in four different cities.

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    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chadd View Post
    This is my first day off in a week and I saw it enforced every day, in four different cities.
    I do not travel with liquids in my carry on , but if I did, I am also not brave enough to take a chance .

    With my luck I would be the one singled out in line and have all my stuff tossed in the garbage.

    Right now the 3-1-1 rule is still listed at tsa.gov. I'll go by their rules until they take it down.

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    Senior Member Jarubian's Avatar
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    I agree unless I hear it all over the news, I rather be safe than sorry. Especially if I am going on vacation, I do not want this silly 3-1-1 rule to ruin my vacation.

  7. #7
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    *** i am not advising folks to ignore the rule******
    i was just making this article available as "interesting" reading.

    we haven't flown since february.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Arubalisa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea J. View Post
    *** i am not advising folks to ignore the rule******
    i was just making this article available as "interesting" reading.

    we haven't flown since february.
    And to the reporter, we say, "walk a mile in our shoes".

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chadd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arubalisa View Post
    I do not travel with liquids in my carry on , but if I did, I am also not brave enough to take a chance .

    With my luck I would be the one singled out in line and have all my stuff tossed in the garbage.

    Right now the 3-1-1 rule is still listed at tsa.gov. I'll go by their rules until they take it down.
    When I'm not working the only thing bigger than three ounces is my contact solution. You can take whatever size you want, but they will test it.

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    Member felle442's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Run262 View Post
    Until something is posted oficially from TSA - I'll go the conservative route and follow the insane rule; simply because there have been several times that I really did forget and lost some rather hard to find expensive products. It's frustrating no doubt, but I seem to always be the one that gets "caught" with the dangerous tube of Crest or the bottle of water I always seem to want to carry with me with I travel.

    You and me both!

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